Every retailer wants to achieve a set of desired outcomes, especially in terms of generating happy, loyal customers, which will ultimately result in an increase in sales and profits. This goal is a given, but how to achieve this goal isn’t quite as straightforward.
The retail marketplace is rapidly changing, so much so that many retailers are struggling to keep up. Shopping is no longer defined as just in-store and eCommerce; the shopping experience has broadened significantly, encompassing both of these shopping styles, as well as a higher set of customer demands and expectations.
Here, we look at the omni-channel shopping environment, and how the implementation of strategic systems and technological innovations will help retailers, regardless of their areas of specialisation, achieve their business goals.
Omni-channel shopping in its simplest form refers to multi-channel shopping, for example, traditional bricks and mortar stores and online shopping. However, when you delve further into this relatively new phenomenon, you’ll find it’s all about making the shopper the centre of the buying experience.
Whether shopping from a desktop, a mobile device, or browsing in store and ordering an out of stock item, customers expect the whole experience to be seamless and stress-free.
This is simple in theory, but in reality, omni-channel shopping and hence order fulfilment is far more complex than what initially meets the eye. We’ll delve into this further below, but essentially this is where we help retail businesses and suppliers come up with an efficient plan of attack for executing a successful omni-channel solution, keeping all their customers happy, no matter how they choose to shop.
Adapting to customer buying habits is essential if businesses wish to remain relevant and competitive. However, there are a number of obstacles that need to be overcome before your order fulfilment strategy can become effective. These include:
To quickly and efficiently fulfil customer orders in accordance with the principals of omni-channel shopping, retailers and wholesalers need to invest in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) or distributed order management (DOM) system as the central processing brain for order fulfilment.
Central processing with strategic intelligence enables retailers and wholesalers to measure not only inventory but also how their stores are performing. Data from stores can be used to leverage existing information to plan orders, shipments and fulfilment activities. Real-time data, analytics and reports provide the information flow necessary for inventory visibility.
For example, if a customer orders a shirt from their phone and wants to pick it up from their local store, these systems will be able to see whether or not that item is available in the local store, and if it isn’t, what the best way to get it there is.
However, no omni-channel approach will work without an effective order fulfilment solution. You’ll need to have the right software to control how stock is received, stored, picked, packed, and shipped with maximum efficiency in mind. This technology is what makes omni-channel order fulfilment possible.
Shopping expectations in an eCommerce marketplace go hand-in-hand with the ‘anytime and anywhere’ requirements of the omni-channel environment.
The main difference is that eCommerce solutions can, in some cases, be treated as separate to traditional retailers. However, in many cases, they also go hand-in-hand with one another and have the same goal of creating a seamless user experience.
But what systems are in place to increase the efficiency and productivity of eCommerce specific businesses?
The software and systems from Dematic offer the flexibility and functionality needed to meet your specific eCommerce needs. However, one of the biggest benefits of our eCommerce solutions is that our uniquely engineered systems can be integrated to create a scalable system that will grow as your business grows.
Our Batch Pick to Put Wall/Sorter is a great example of our eCommerce fulfilment systems in action. This high-volume picking solution is perfect for both small and medium sized orders, while the hands-free picking provides high accuracy and suitably-sized packaging. Additional ‘put’ walls can be added as needed.
Dematic’s eCommerce solutions are driven by our Dematic iQ software platform, which is designed to integrate with your existing IT assets, and can be configured to suit your needs.
To integrate omni-channel solutions into the retail supply and fulfilment chain, we’ve come up with a number of multi-faceted solutions that focus on optimising efficiency, while reducing operational costs. We detail these below.
As eCommerce and omni-channel distribution continues to grow, so does the need for smarter, more flexible fulfilment solutions. With decreasing delivery times and increasing variability in product mix, order size and volumes, traditional picking processes can’t deliver the efficiency required to meet the omni-channel distribution challenge.
This is where the Dematic RapidPut fulfilment system comes in. As a scalable order fulfilment system that addresses today’s dynamic eCommerce environment, it’s a turnkey solution that’s powered by Dematic’s state-of-the-art iQ software. This innovative system also works to eliminate the pitfalls associated with traditional wave-based fulfilment solutions, which is illustrated in the below table.
The Zone Routing System is a discrete order picking system used for distribution operations that need to pick, pack and ship customer orders with accuracy and speed. This pre-engineered system is based on a configuration that orders your warehouse into specific picking zones, all of which support a specific SKU category. The layout is optimised to work with four to 16 picking zones and can accommodate the transport of inbound inventory for re-stocking.
This solution can be applied in applications under the following circumstances:
Working with this system will generally follow the below process.
Helping achieve fast implementation, high productivity and rapid ROI, the Dematic Modular GTP system is a new pre-engineered and pre-configured order picking solution that’s suitable for both small to mid-sized businesses. This innovative system can distribute between 200 and 1,500+ lines per hour.
This cost-effective logistics automation solution has been developed to tackle the rising costs associated with employing staff, adhering to workplace safety requirements and an increased need for greater flexibility. This flexible, off-the-shelf picking solution can be scaled up or down depending on your businesses changing needs and comes with the following benefits:
Deploying inventory in the modern retail supply environment is all about optimising labour productivity, order accuracy, inventory accuracy and processing speed.
How this is achieved is dependant on a businesses size, geographic constraints and logistics philosophy. The below example outlines the process for multi-channel DCs that need to fill orders for eCommerce, small retail stores and large retail stores in a hybrid DC, where inventory and labour needs are shared across channels.
To successfully share resources between the three types of retailers multi-channel distribution centres typically deal with, flex labour needs to be applied between channels. This is because each business can peak at different times, and you’ll need to distribute your labour accordingly.
In terms of picking, you can delegate separate picking zones for eCommerce and retail stores, or with the right Dematic technology, you can combine them. To determine which method is most suited to your business needs, an initial analysis of your activity profile will be required.
Consolidating operations in multi-channel DCs is an effective way of gaining efficiencies in the distribution process. This has seen omni-channel retailers merging with multiple distribution centres and brands to form one succinct operation. This increases the scale and volume of operations, while also reducing the cost of picking, packing and shipping each order. It also reduces the costs associated with storing inventory and simplifies the decision making process when working with Dematic to select the appropriate order management software.
When it comes to the development of integrated automated technology, software and services that can improve the supply chain for retailers, Dematic is at the forefront of the industry. If you’re looking to streamline your businesses processes, or need assistance implementing effective omni-channel supply solutions, contact Dematic today.
Stay up-to-date with case studies, technology, and business news by subscribing to our Email newsletter, What’s New in Logistics.